Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Concrete Pathway Is Growing

The concrete pathway around the house is growing. To date, it's encircling the house  3/4s  of the way. What you're seeing in these pictures is the path wrapping around the back. The steps and railing are coming from the side of the house near the rear. The white pipe running under the concrete path right now does nothing, but in the future will carry the greywater from the kitchen to a banana patch. (I'm actually thinking agead! Time to run the pipe is now rather than later.) 

The pathway balloons out into a patio. The idea is to have a small table and chairs here. Right now you can see the seams from the individual concrete pours, but I know from prior experience those seams will disappear from view as the concrete develops a darkened patina. 

Here's a view looking from the other side. The white pipe in the foreground, like the other pipe, presently does nothing. But in the future may handle the greywater from the bathroom, again going to a banana patch downhill. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wind Damage in the Garden

The past week things have been really windy around here. Gusty trades but quite strong. Luckily no trees have come down, but the wind has been causing damage in the gardens. As expected, the banana leaves have been shredded, but it doesn't seem to bother the banana trees all that much. The veggies are a different story. 

Around the edges of the corn patch, a number of stalks have blown over. The corn is at a stage where it's already done the pollination thing, so I don't see that this is going to be a real problem. The corn patch is small and I will be hand harvesting, so no losses expected. 

The potato plants got whipped around, but most were small in size and took the beating pretty well. Of the larger plants, I see about 10% got snapped off at the base. So that's a loss since they hadn't produced tubers yet. 

The young cauliflower suffered the worse with about a 50% loss. The wind twirled the baby plants, severely damaging their stems at ground level. 

I took some close up photos trying to show the damage, but it's difficult to see. The tops literally got twirled around leaving just some fibers holding the tops to the roots. I mounded up the soil around the I damaged plants to help protect them. 

Some of the younger bean plants lost leaves but otherwise survived. Most everything else did ok. Luckily I didn't have the young tomato transplants anywhere they'd be vulnerable. I've been looking into setting up hoops for low tunnels in order to protect against excess rain and the drying sun, but they sound like a good idea for protection against strong winds too. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

More On The House - David's Project

After taking this past week off from working around the place, I'm back on the job this Monday morning. But it turns out that my plans have suddenly changed and I need to make a run to Kona, so David is getting things staged and started on this next project. Next project? Doing something to connect the neglected lanai on the end of the house to the new concrete walkway. 

Above -- this part of the house just accumulates junk. Don't know what to do with something? Go set it out on the lanai. Time to make changes. 

Below....view taken from on the lanai looking out. 

David spent time going over ideas of what to do with this lanai and how to integrate it into the living space. 
Truthfully, I wasn't full of grand ideas. David was loaded with them! After exploring many pros & cons, we've decided to try building a micro deck off the lanai with steps going down to the walkway.....which isn't there yet but will be. There isn't enough space to simply build stairs down to ground level because at the right edge of the photo above, the ground drops off extremely rapidly (almost a cliff). It's so steep right there that even the dogs can't climb the hill. So entertaining thoughts of adding fill would be sheer madness. 

David made some boxes to give me an idea where the micro deck would go. Once I gave the go-ahead, he poured concrete into those boxes to make piers to support the micro deck. 

Below, another view. Plus we dragged over some lumber before I left for town. It will be interesting to see what David creates, because I'm still not sure yet exactly what he has in mind or how it will turn out. With my time completely occupied for the next three days, it's going to be 100% up to David. I'm giving him free rein to create something that will encourage us to use this side of the house. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Big Move...Off Grid...Year of Adjustment

Not us. We've already done this and survived. 

If you're considering making a big move or a big change in your life, thinking about going off the grid, then this short blog is a real good read. The writer tells an honest story of her first year in Hawaii. 

If you scroll way down to the bottom of the page after you're done reading the introduction, you will find a list of archives by date. Since Jane tells this as a continuing story, starting at the beginning makes for an enjoyable read. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful Thanksgiving

Just a brief note......

After sharing the day with friends, I'm well aware that I have much to be thankful for. In fact, not a day goes by where I am not thankful. That's 365 days a year, folks, not just this one day in November. I've made both good and bad choices going through life, and have had both good and bad luck, but it all brought me to where I am right now. I think that I am most thankful for the things that I can't control or have little control over. To be living where I have relative freedom. Free of significant discrimination and oppression. Plenty of food, safe water, adequate shelter, comfort. Reasonable good health. A caring community with aloha spirit. A group of good friends, both two and four footed. 

Yes, a thankful Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Taro Varieties

Curious "K" wants to know which new varieties have been added to my farm. The new additions are all Hawaiian types. 

Manini owali
Lauloa ke'oke'o 
Niue ula'ula 

I'm planning on opening up new growing areas so that I will be able to add more varieties in the future. For right now I'm focusing on propagating the plants that I have in order to be selling potted taro next spring. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Drivel - Maui Bird Refuge

Taking a short R&R trip to Maui. Primary focus of the trip is to get Hawaiian taro varieties for adding to the farm and picking the brain of the Maui Nui nurseryman for more taro growing and using pointers. But then we plan to spend two days relaxing and recuperating. My sore muscles are in need of a few days vacation. 

Success on the taro front. Was able to obtain five new additions and a brain full of information. 

Took a day to explore a marshland bird refuge here in Maui. I wasn't expecting it to be anything special, so I was pleasantly surprised. There are two significant parts to the refuge, though tourists seem to only discover one. So we had the inland area all to ourselves, the birds, and a feral pig....which we heard but thankfully did see except for its tracks. 

This refuge is one of the few places one can see two Hawaiian endangered birds. The Hawaiian black necked stilt (ae'o), above. And the Hawaiian coot ('alae ke'oke'o), below. 

There were dozens of each type quite visible in the various ponds. Saw lots of other water type birds, but I was most fascinated by the stilts and coots. I'm not an avid birdwatcher, but spending time wandering the area was extremely enjoyable. Well worth the time. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ergonomic Gardening?

This is an idea that Joseph Lofthouse has recently put into my head....selecting plants based upon ergonomics. My body is getting older so I need to make things easier on it. I've been thinking about what changes I'd like to make, where feasible. Time to make gardening more "old person" friendly. 

... Change to more trellises and less ground beds. Bending over to pick large harvests of bush beans and bush peas is getting harder on my back. 
... On a related note, save seed from plants that produce their harvest at 4'-5' for easier gardening. For example, corns ears at a comfortable to pick height on the stalk. And save seed from the taller pea plants producing pods that can be picked without bending or stretching. 
... Switch from wide garden beds, which require leaning to reach things, to narrower beds or even rows that are easier to straddle. Straddling is easier for me now than kneeling or leaning. 
... Go with more pallet grow boxes and other "tabletop" methods to bring crops up to a height where I don't have to bend over. 
... Get an edger tool for my tiller so that I can easily work the bed edges to cut the invasive tropical grass roots that want to invade the beds. 
... For any new beds being created, make them so that the ATV and cart can drive over them so that it will be easier to deliver mulch and compost. 

I've already switched to a two wheeled wheelbarrow. Much easier than a one wheeled type, though it's a bit different to handle. And I will be adding a garden cart, like a Gardenway, to my equipment list. And getting away from hard to start gasoline garden tools. This is something that I'm already doing, so I'll update you soon. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fire! Am I Ready?

Early this morning we had gotten ready for our mini Thanksgiving week vacation, shared conversation over coffee with a couple of friends down at the local coffee bar, then swung by the farm on our way to the airport. Smoke! There was a fire somewhere nearby our place. In fact, it was right next door. Yikes! Super yikes! Just as we got up to our gate, the neighbor across the street was heading out her driveway riding her tractor with the front scoop. She called out that there was a fire. Our neighbor is one gutsy woman, heading out to do battle on her own.

Within a minute her husband arrived in his pickup, having been off the farm not far away. Grabbing my phone, I started calling neighbors, trying to locate the source of the smoke and to sound the alarm. No luck. The husband headed up one hui driveway while I headed up the other. Surveying my neighbor's land, I figured it was somewhere in the trees but from my angle I couldn't see. So I charged back out and headed up my own driveway, discovering that one of my next door neighbor's buildings was afire. Ok, not something we could handle. Time to call 911. 

Now what to do? Head for the airport? No way. Not until that fire was out. 

Waiting for the fire trucks, my mind was racing. Boy, I sure was glad that we had gotten a good rain last night. 0.37", more than were had in the past two months or so. Everything was well wetted, and still soaking wet for the first time in weeks, so we lucked out there. But it was windy. That's bad.

Next I went down a mental check list. Were things in place for a sudden evacuation if need be? 
... The livestock in the pastures would be safe because of the direction of the wind. 
... I could release the chickens if needed. 
... I could quickly evacuate the dogs by loading the livestock transport cage into the truck bed, then loading up the dogs. They all eagerly jump into the track bed. 
... Our important papers were all in the bugout box. Cash, wallets, and car keys centrally located in their designated location. Guns and ammo in their cases, proper location, ready to be grabbed in a hurry. 
... Cats. Finding them all would most likely be impossible, but being loose, they would probably be ok. But I realized that I no longer had enough carrying boxes for them all. So, I could use pillowcases if I had to. Why had things gone wrong? Originally I had enough trap cages, one for each cat. But over time I had lent them out for people to use for trapping ferals for the spay clinics. Thus two had been damaged beyond repair and two were "lost", never to be returned. 

Now I've discovered that I need to make a correction in order to be prepared for an emergency evacuation in the future. No more being the nice guy and letting people borrow my transport cages. And I need to go out and buy four trap cages to return to the total number that I need for all my cats. 

One other thing. I learned that I would be quite unhappy if I lost certain pieces of my veterinary gear and electronic gadgets if the was a forest fire. I realized that my other possessions I could live without or replace. So I plan to place the precious items in a transportable case/box along with the bugout box, cover it with a table cloth and use it as a stand for stowing my iPad, laptop, & shoulder bag. That way they could be easily accessed to be used in daily life, but also ready for bugging out. 

Ok now. You want to know things ended? The fire company put out the fire and all was under control within a half hour. We left for the airport after two of the neighbors reassured us that they would call us immediately if the fire started back up. But we still phoned them from the airport to make sure before boarding the plane. Whew. What a way to start a vacation that was suppose to be relaxing. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Coffee Pickin' Time

Just a quick's coffee time again. For some reason, the coffee cherries are ripening more evenly on certain trees, but not others. Not sure why. In the past the harvest period was more spread out.

But it surely looks pretty seeing the whole branch loaded with almost all bright red cherries. 

Above is one of the trees located in full, deep shade. As a result the tree growth is very open, sprawling, and leggy. But it still produces quite a bit of cherries, and as you can see. Almost all are ready to pick at the same time. This surely makes harvesting easy this time around. 

A while ago someone asked me why I planted so many coffee trees in the deep shade rather than a spot with more sun, since after all the sun-planted trees would produce twice a much coffee. My reason is twofold. First, I prefer the flavor of shade coffee. Second, it's a way to utilize the shady locations on my farm. There's a limited selection of crops that will grow in the shade, and coffee is one of them. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Walking Path Around the House -Update

What started out months ago as a path to go from the car parking area to the front door in order to avoid wet slippery spots (think = falls) has now morphed into a huge project. Not so much a difficult one, but every time I think to myself that I'm close to finishing, we decide to extend the pathway a bit more. Initially I has thought the path would just go around in places where I frequently walked. That's no longer the case. 

In the photo below, just about where the black cat (a.k.a Dik Dik) is standing is where I last reported on the progress. As you can see, a lot more pathway has been created. Note the two white pioes going under the concrete. One goes from the rain gutters to the water catchment tank. The other is just a short empty piece of pipe. That's so there will be an easy underpass in case we decide in the future to run a hose, pipe, or something else from that point of the house and out into the yard for some reason. Far easier to install the underpass now than to try to dig it later, especially considering that the ground has lots of lava chunks and boulders. It would be a nightmare to dig! 

Below, the path is now going around the house and heading for the next corner. Dik Dik is helping by leading the way. Sorry about the junk.....coolers and trashcans. Just moved them aside so that the wheelbarrow could get through easily. They're normally stored along the house on this side. 

The pathway is now competed up to the far corner. Are we going to keep going? Gosh, it's got this far so why not. The game plan now is to circumnavigate the house. As I said, the project surely has changed from its initial purpose. But that happens to me a lot. I'm use to it by now. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Feral Goat Herd

I don't think I've mentioned my feral goat herd. They're fairly recent additions but have been around long enough now that they are getting use to seeing me come & go. With them being captured ferals, I don't expect them ever to become friendly, but at least now I get to see them daily, albeit at a distance. So all of the photos I have of them are taken at quite a distance, thus are fuzzy.   

I started out with 6 goats, but I think one flew the coop. So it looks like I still have 2 billys and 3 nannys.  In the above photo, the big brown billy can be seen walking in front of the large tree. This was a lucky shot, plus the closest I've been to that goat since I released him into the pastures. I didn't have to use a lot of camera zoom. To his right there are 2 black girls, but it's tough to pick them out. 

Usually this is how close I can get to him......that little light dot in the center of the above pic, to the right of the tree trunks. And further into the distance are the 3 black nannys. 

Checking on the sheep one morning I was surprised to see the black billy among them. He was quite obvious to me, because he has horns. My sheep don't. I had to use quite a bit of zoom to get the photo because as I tried getting closer the billy saw me and took off. Flash.....gone! 

Just this morning I lucked out again, finding all 5 up with the sheep flock. Still had to use quite a bit of camera zoom to get this photo, but you can see not only the brown billy but the young small black nanny standing in front of him. Once they spot me, they take off. But at least they are running slower and take their time before deciding to leave. Ah, I'm making progress. 

Why keep feral goats? Because I'm a sucker. A local hunter needed some cash and was going around selling a pick up truckload of feral goats that he had captured. He had managed to sell all but these last ones. After being tied up in the back of a truck for two days, they were really sad looking and terrified goats, not to mention hungry. Judging from their dirt and smell, they had been on the bottom of the pile of goats. Since he had run out of a market to buy these last few, he planned to slaughter and smoke them himself. I happened to enter the picture at that time when he drove to my gate. Being a sucker for a stressed animal, I ended up buying them. Geez, I'm a wuss. 

If I don't want to admit to being a softee, I can always claim that goats help round out pasture management and keep it healthier and more productive by eating the browse that sheep won't. Gee, sounds like good reasoning to me!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Harvesting My Compost/Soil

Compost/soil? That's the term I use to describe the material that comes out of one of my pallet grow boxes. It isn't compost, because there's quite a bit of soil and sand in the mix. And it's not soil either because the vast majority of it is based upon decomposing organic material, also known as compost. 

Each pallet box is used to grow crops for about 8 to 12 months before I open the box to harvest its contents. This translates into two back-to-back short season crops (beans, potatoes, etc) or one long season crop (turmeric, taro, yacon, etc). 

Typically a pallet box is half full when I harvest the compost/soil. The material has decomposed that much over time.
Above is the most recent box I've opened, and it is half full, as anticipated. 

While I could simply fork the material into a wheelbarrow and cart it to the nearest garden bed in need, I prefer to sift out the coarser chunks. This makes my life easier when running the rototiller in the garden. Usually I use a wheelbarrow to catch the sifted compost/soil, but in the above photo I'm using a 5 gallon bucket. Don't ask me for a logical reason. It's seemed ok at the time.  But really, it would have been far better to use either the wheelbarrow or the cart behind the ATV. Geez, I sifted the entire pallet boxful before I thought to use the ATV wagon. Poor decision on my part. Hopefully I've learned my lesson enough to remember for next time.'s a close up view of the coarse stuff that the sifter takes out. 

I usually get one trashcanful, or a bit more, of coarse stuff. 

Above me you can see just how coarse it is. Even though this isn't going right into my garden beds, it isn't going to waste either. No way! (does that surprise anyone? 😉 ) I will layer this stuff into the pallet box along with all the fresh organic material I will be using to refill the box. Perhaps in another 8 months or so it will be decomposed enough to make it through the next sifting session. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Drivel - Super Moon

I had to laugh. All the media hype about the super moon has left lots of people thinking that the full moon was going to be noticeably gigantic. While it might appear larger astronomically, it surely wouldn't look larger to the naked eye. Regardless, I think it was special to be able to go out a view this beautiful full moon. 

Up on our homestead, every night tends to be clouded over. Seldom do we see a clear sky until after midnight. Quite honestly, I wasn't up to the idea of dragging myself out of bed at 1 pm in order to look at the moon. Instead, we hopped into the car and headed south, planning on driving to South Point 14 miles away. But along the way we noticed the sky cleared enough to reveal the moon. Fantastic! As luck would have it, we have a friend along that stretch of road, so we begged to come sit on her lanai for a bit of moon gazing. 

Admittedly, cellphones make terrible moon photographing cameras. But snapped a couple and surprisingly they didn't turn out all that bad. 

It was comforting and serene sitting on the lanai, chatting with a friend, and sharing the experience. I'll be remembering this super moon for a long time. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Low Bow

Yup, you're going have to "suffer" with another rainbow photo. This one was so low in the horizon that I was hooked. What a cool looking rainbow. ' of the reasons I love being in Hawaii. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Yacon 2016

The past month the rain has almost been non-existent. And the yacon has acted accordingly. It quickly matured, produced tubers, and died back. 

Above, all those brown stalks are the died off yacon. 

Normally I've waited until Thanksgiving to start harvesting yacon, but obviously with the plants died back, there's nothing holding me back from harvesting now. So I opened the pallet grow boxes to see what was up. 

Below is a closeup. The plant, conveniently I might add, grew right along the side of the box. Removing that side revealed a perfect demonstration of the yacon growing habit. Brown stalk above, propagation nodules at the soil surface and just below (the whitish knobs), and edible tubers underneath (the brownish tater-like things). 

After shaking the dirt off and removing the plant from the box, here's what I harvested.....

Wow, even I was impressed. But I soon learned that the whole box wasn't so productive. Each pallet box contained six mature plants. But only the one that was along the front wall produced lots of nodules and tubers. The other plants also produced, but not nearly as much. 

Why the difference? The pallet boxes were located in the semi-shade. I was using a space not deemed prime for most vegetables. But I was testing to see if yacon would do ok there. The front edge of the pallet boxes actually got more sun during the year than the rest of the box, due to the differing inclination of the sun during winter versus summer. That's because tall nearby trees interfered with the sun during the summer, resulting in quite a bit of shade. 

Conclusion: yacon does better with more sun. Although it will produce some in semi-shade, it produces a whole lot better with more sun. Therefore I will change the location where I'm growing yacon and move some other crop to this semi-shaded spot. 

By the way, did you notice that the pallet box also yielded a half cubic yard of compost/soil? I'll reuse about 33% of that to restart the next pallet grow box and move the 66% to a spot in the gardens that is begging for more soil. I have plenty of shallow beds that could really use the addition of compost/soil mix. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Direct Sowing Fine Seed

Except for radish which germinate quickly, I find that I need to give some sort of extra care to small and especially fine seeds that I sow directly into the garden beds. Otherwise they tend to germinate very poorly. I suspect it is the tropical wind and sun that is too harsh in my conditions, 

Fine seeds, I find, are by far the most difficult. There are a number of ways a person could give them some protection. I've tried a few methods but they haven't been the solution I'm looking for. 
1- Covering the seed with a thin layer of fine sand. This method hasn't helped. The surface still dries out too quickly. 
2- Covering the seed with potting soil. Ditto, as above. Things dry out faster than I can keep up with. 
3- Multiple light waterings during the day. While this works, it's real difficult to stop what I'm doing in order to run down to the garden and water a bed 3 to 5 times a day. So I'm looking for a better solution. 
4- Provide shade cover. I've done this with some success but discovered that more needs to be done. Shade alone isn't enough. 

What I'm currently trying is covering the freshly seeded bed with a white sheet. I then remove the sheet each morning, water the bed, and replace it. 

Above, I've pulled back one sheet and started to moisten the soil surface. One half of the bed is dark colored (wet) while the other half is lighter (dry).

Above, this bed is now completely watered and ready to have the sheets put back on top. 

Above, with the sheets in place, I wet them down before calling it a day. 
This seems to keep the seed moist all day long. I'm just now trying this method with carrot and parsnip seed. Give me a couple of weeks and I'll let you know how it's working. If I can get away with watering just once a day, it's acceptable to me. 

I've successfully germinated fine seed before, but it's been in a shaded greenhouse situation. I watered once a day each morning. The greenhouse humidity plus protection from the sun & wind worked well. But I want to figure out a good system for direct sowing fine seeds into the garden bed.

I'm thinking out a system using simple removable hoops for making a low tunnel arrangement for some of the garden beds. I see lots of examples of low tunnels using poly film or reemay cloth, but they're awkward, difficult, and time consuming to open daily for light watering. Another idea is removable, light cages with sheet coverings. Yes, you can't envision them yet and neither can I.....there's a significant problem with the idea. They are lightweight making them easy to remove and replace quickly, but thus also susceptible to having the wind blow them away. Ah, my mind is spinning.  We'll see what my mind comes up with. 

Before everyone floods me with email suggestions of using a sprinkler system or misting system, please keep in mind that I am on a limited solar electricity. Plus my water pump is a low pressure, low flow one. Besides, most of the garden beds are too far away from electricity and water systems to install a sprinkler or mister set up even if I wanted to waste the electricity. One more thing, I'm not on municipal water. I catch rainwater off the roof and store it in a huge tank. Thus water available for irrigation is limited. With significant limitations in the amount of power, water pressure, and water volume that I have to deal with, I need to think out alternative solutions. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Direct Sowing Into Furrows

With certain crops, I prefer to sow into furrows or bowls. Reasons... makes targeting the watering better. Less run off. More water where I want it. the seedling grows, I scope dirt back in to fill the depression, thus entrenching the plant deeper into the soil for better growth, stability, and production. 

Which crops? 
...sweet potatoes

Ok, here's an example. 

I started some daikon seed in trays then transplanted the seedlings out into the garden into little depressions I call bowls. Actually I scooped out the soil about the size of a soup bowl and planted the seedling down in the bottom. It's now easy to gently water it. Below, all the dark circles are the watered in seedlings. 

Here's a closer view. The seedling is quite young and small. It's down in a bowl- like depression. 

After the initial watering, I apply a very, very light mulch. 

Pictured above, two weeks later the daikon seedlings have grown. I gently fill in the bowl by hand scooping the surrounding soil back in. With the soil once again level, it's time to apply more mulch. The seedlings are large enough now not to get lost in the mulch. 

Well, not completely lost, but hard to see. But now they will grow quite rapidly. Within a week they will be well above the mulch. 

Sometimes I will make a long furrow running the length of a bed (about 20' long). I tend to do this for potatoes and sweet potatoes more so than other crops. These get planted at the bottom of the furrow, then over the course of a couple weeks I fill the furrow in by scoping in the surrounding soil. Then the next step is applying a thick mulch. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Direct Sowing Seeds in the Garden

There are two techniques I tend to use when direct seeding into my garden beds. One method I prefer to use on dry years.......scooping out a shallow trench or bowl and planting the seeds into it. (I also use this technique with certain root crops, and will describe it in tomorrow's post.) During wetter and "normal" years I use the method I'm showing here.

First thing, I till in soil amendments as needed. Till in the old mulch, compost, a tad of coral sand, a tad of lava sand, perhaps some biochar, perhaps some manure. Once lightly tilled using a small rototiller, the bed is ready for planting. I don't build hills nor create furrows. The soil is level and smooth. 

The seeds go in, and the bed gets labeled using yellow stakes. Yellow for visibility....tall so they don't get lost in the foliage. I admit that I can no longer rely upon my memory to say what I planted when, so stakes it is. Next step -- water the seeds in. Below you can see that there are two rows, watered, with lighter colored drier soil between them. 

Next, I poke thin bits of bamboo twigs along the row so that I will know where I planted those seeds. That lets me know where I need to concentrate my watering efforts until the seeds sprout. I used to use tree twigs but I found bamboo to be easier to use, longer lasting, and more visible. By the way, I grow my own bamboo here on the farm. 

Because I get tropical winds and sun, exposed soil dries out rapidly. To prevent this problem, I LIGHTLY mulch with fine grass clippings. 

Below is a close up photo to show that the mulch is light. It's not even a layer. The soil shows through in places. Usually 2-3 days later I will need to apply a little more mulch because the green grass dried out and shriveled up. If the seeds were large, such as peas or beans, then the mulch can be a little heavier. But if the seeds are small, such as beets or spinach, then the mulch must be very light. I have another technique I use with fine seeds and I'll describe that two posts from now. 

I prefer to keep soil covered so that the sun and wind does not dry it out. The past two years with all the rain, that wasn't an issue. But the weather seems to have changed these past three weeks and is returning to what I tend to say is "average/normal" for my location. Thus I'm back to keeping the ground mulched. Lightly in the beginning, heavier as the crop grows. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

6 New Ewes

I had the opportunity to add some new blood to the flock, and I eagerly jumped at the chance. Because of dog predation last year, I'm down in ewe numbers. Plenty of rams but not many ewes. Plus with the past rains, I've got grass that needs grazing down. So I need more sheep. 

Another local farmer with a sheep flock had some stock he was willing to sell. 6 fine, young ewes. All grade hair sheep. 

Below, here they are in the back of my pickup truck. One buff, 3 pure whites, 2 black & white. 

When I released them into the pasture, about half of my original sheep came running over to check out the newcomers. The other half kept their faces buried in the haycube feeder. I guess they'll make their introductions after the food runs out. 

Needless to say, the rams found the newcomers to be highly interesting. Nobody is in heat, so it was just a case of introductions and getting to know them. Next year, the lamb crop should be beautiful!